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Friday, May 29, 2020

Define Your Love Pie

I used to preach that love is not a pie, but rather an endless construct that can be spread to new people without taking any away from others. Now I'm not so sure that anyone other than myself believes it. Could I be mistaken? What about love your enemies? What about unconditional love? Did Jesus have unconditional love? Did Buddha? Does God?

Why were the masses wanting to throw stones in the New Testament? What did Jesus have to say about that? Is that relevant today? ... to non Christians?

If you think someone did something wrong, should they be completely destroyed forever, amen? Forgiven? Given a chance to change? Do people change? Have any of you ever changed? Did you ever engage in bad behavior or thoughts and later feel bad about it? Did you change for the better? Were you allowed to change, or did the world continue to stone you over and over?

What is the meaning of unconditional love? What does it have to do with compassion? Forgiveness? Helping your enemies? Helping those you are afraid of?

So .. is love a pie ... or not?


Saturday, May 16, 2020

Aunt Icalee & Cast Iron Skillets


My cousin reminded me today that 25 years ago her mom, my aunt Icalee Dowell, passed away from cancer.

Around 1989 my aunt and uncle came to stay with my dad after he had been burned and subsequently skin grafted and needed to be taken care of after coming home.

I was in graduate school at the time. My aunt was a fan of cast iron cooking, and I didn't have any. So she bought me my first cast iron skillet and broke it in using it cooking for my dad. And since then I have become a lover of using cast iron. She seemed to give me the skillet as a token of deep love and a bond between us. I suppose I have done the same over the years. Along the way I have collected cast iron cookware of all types including skillets, pots, baking pans and cornbread pans. Some of them I picked up at yard sales and restored, and others I have just inherited from grandmothers and great-grandmothers.


Joey Hitchcock, my nephew, got one of my skillets two years ago when he moved into an apartment and began cooking on his own. It had belonged to my grandma Cantrell and possibly to my great-grandma Malone. I don't know if he uses it or not. But I think he does.



Mason Simpson got one of my iron skillets a year ago when he moved in to his house. He began cooking, asking questions about cooking, and was eager to learn to cook. He has told me that he uses his skillet daily. And I know he has become a good cook because I have tasted some of his food, and it was delicious. I believe his skillet to also be inherited from my grandma Cantrell or my great-grandma Malone.



I gave one of my skillets to Mason's girlfriend, Cara Marchesani, this past winter. I don't know how much she cooks, but I know that Mason has probably used it quite a bit when he visits her.



Jeff Ness also got one of my skillets passed down from my grandma or great-grandma this past winter. He was without pots and pans and loves to cook in iron, so I wanted him to have one that was nice and broke in. He has told me he's crazy about using it.

Thanks to my dear Aunt Icalee and the trend she started by getting me my first iron skillet, which I still use to this day.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Characteristics of Best Friends

  • Love: like the unconditional, universal kind
  • Caring: always there ready to lend a shoulder to cry or be carried on
  • Support: the affirmation and security of knowing no matter what happens or you do, they are there to support you
  • Encouragement: best friendships and relationships are the most encouraging and uplifting kind, at all times
  • Consistency: they just show up and are present throughout life, no matter the situation, but especially in bad and worst times
  • Unselfish and selfless: they only want friendship and time, love and support.
  • Trust: absolute confidence
  • Truth: they aren’t liars, but rather give honest, loving feedback, never seeking to mislead me
  • Non-judgmental/Acceptance: they aren't judge and jury, but rather defenders and allies
  • Your best friend has your back! No matter the situation, you know that when you need your friend to be there for you, they are present without fail
  • Unconditional Forgiveness - period.

Judging



Maybe we all jump to conclusions too quickly. We see the girl with the too-short skirt and label her as “easy.” We see the boy with greasy hair and call him “creepy.” We see the teen parents and immediately assume they’re “irresponsible.”


We forget that there are still people under those labels—ones who are sensitive and kind, ones who are complicated and misunderstood. We condemn the cheater but never bother to wonder why they cheat. We hate someone for the things they do but never bother to ask them why they do it. We view the world from a narrow lens and assume that’s all there is, then hurt when others do the same to us.

If all of humanity has one thing in common, it’s this: We have all been judged unfairly by someone who simply misunderstood us. Every single one of us has been on the other side of a rumor or a scandal, even just a negative thought. We’ve all been labeled in ways that make us feel embarrassed, even ashamed.

It’s easy to get caught up in what others think about you, but the fact of the matter is: Most of the people who judge you in life don’t know you. And they definitely don’t know the whole story.

People who know nothing more than your name will form opinions about you. There will always be someone out there who assumes they understand you just from a single glance, without knowing where you’ve been, where you’re going, or where you want to be. There will always be people who think you’re weaker, less intelligent, less sophisticated, or less kind than you actually are.

But those people don’t know you.

There’s a difference between the people who see what you do and the people who see you. The former only understand a sliver of the situation and draw conclusions from what they perceive. The latter know you well enough to understand your motivations, or at least understand when there’s more to the story than what they see. Those are the opinions that matter. Not those of the people who only see a piece of the puzzle and decide they understand the whole situation, but the ones who have watched you put the entire thing together and recognize the bigger picture.

Of course, it’s hard not to care about what people say. It’s hard not to hurt over what they think. It’s harder to admit that maybe we do the same things to people that they do to us, that we are the culprit of the same crimes we condemn. That in other people’s lives, we too are the people who simply see what others do, not who they truly are.

Voltaire once wrote, “It is better to risk saving a guilty person than to condemn an innocent one.” Maybe this is something we can practice in everyday life. Instead of judging someone for something we think we understand, we should consider the other sides of the story that we cannot see.

Because there will always be things we do not know.

I don’t know why some girl wears a too-short skirt or why some boy has greasy hair—and I definitely don’t know what, if anything, it says says about their character. I don’t know how a couple of teen parents ended up with kids—whether it was serendipity, or a life-changing mistake.

Just as no one knows how I ended up here, in this place that I am now, with the friends I’ve made. No one— and I mean no one—can definitively judge what I’ve done. Or what you’ve done. It’s just not their place.

Remember, the truth is that no one else knows the full story. Your story is yours and yours alone. At the end of the day, we are all just people doing our best with what we’ve been given. You are your own judge and jury, and it’s your approval alone that matters above all.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

The Killing of Arbery and a Look Inside Yourself


It isn't right for one or two people to just decide that someone is guilty of something and then kill them dead right then and there. No one person has the authority to judge ,convict and punish someone just over something they THINK happened or they THINK they saw. And yet it happens all the time. Sometimes the person gets killed, But not always.
This is a good time for everyone to question themselves and how they judge others. I have personally experienced best friends judging me, turning their backs on me, shutting me out and blaming me for things I did not do - and then not giving me a voice to even speak as to my innocence. If you're doing that to someone you're just as bad as these guys who shot Arbery.
Sometimes it's racially based and sometimes it isn't. For whatever reason, a person who wants to deny someone the right to be innocent until proven guilty or have a voice to defend oneself is guilty of their own prejudices against something. Whether it be race or lifestyle or socioeconomic level, etc. So if you discover that you're being this way to someone, call them, beg their forgiveness, and do your best to find the truth and work things out. Be willing to humble yourself extensively to make it up to them. Then get off your high horse and treat people like you want to be treated.
Give others a chance to defend themselves. Don't punish others on the basis of what you THINK, because you might be wrong. And never overreact to the point of killing someone or hurting someone because of your overconfidence in your own thoughts. And finally forgive people and give them another chance like the man you worship has mandated that you do. Or quit claiming that you worship him.
False assumptions hurt people and sometimes kill people. It's wrong whether you're killing someone or shutting them out or spreading rumors. It's all bad. Everyone deserves a chance to defend themselves, even if they're guilty.